Living with Lactose Intolerance In a World Full of Dairy

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By Eliah Anderson
Staff Writer

I come from Wisconsin the land of cows and milk, and I am lactose intolerant.
The real problem lies in that I love the taste of dairy- mac and cheese, ice cream, chocolate, or milk shakes.
You name it, I love it. As some might conclude this leads to some uncomfortable situations.
Lactose intolerance is defined as the reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. According to a governmental study 65% of the human population is lactose intolerant. While most people are shy to admit their lack of significant enzymes, I will boldly proclaim that I am lactose intolerant, however, that doesn’t necessarily make the ailment any less pleasant.
Many have suggested I take a magical pill that allows me to digest dairy without the discomfort. Produced by Lactaid the “pill” provides fast acting support for lactose intolerants who want to indulge. What most people don’t realize is that the “pill” is not for everyone. Some of us (me included) must seek that freedom in less desirable ways.
For those unfortunate few who can’t take the “pill” I have devised another method for users to get those tastes. Ezrie, my little sister, happens to be a heavy consumer of dairy which means that not only do we always have a supply of dairy in our house but I have to regularly overcome the excruciating pain of watching her enjoy these products. I admit that I am not perfect. Sometimes the lure of dairy becomes too much and I succumb to the cravings.
Luckily, I devised the one bite rule. When I see Ezrie or another family member eating a dairy delicacy, I run to the kitchen, grab my utensil, and allow myself one bite of bliss. It is amazing how long one bite can last but, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Because of the one bite rule moments of weakness are no longer followed by extensive periods holed up in the bathroom.
I perhaps am lucky because when I was a baby my parents seemed aware of my insignificant digestive tract and kept me dairy free from the very beginning. My parents experimented by giving me soy baby formula which, for obvious reasons, helped my mood.
From Kindergarten to Fifth Grade I lived in Wisconsin-the land of dairy products. I grew up in a town whose local economy relied on dairy farms. The high school mascot was the cheesemakers, the local festival was named Cheese Days and the town housed a cheese museum. In Wisconsin cheese is a big deal. Growing up in such of a hostile environment taught me at an early age the power of saying no.
However hard I try there are times when my self control weakens and a period of overindulgence ensues. Though these times are a shameful part of my past, I consider them a necessary segment of my journey. For the sake of my personal pride I will not go into detail on these tragic moments of life. The details will stay between me and the bathroom.
The good news is that new dairy- free products are introduced regularly in my life. I’ve tried vegan cheese, coconut yogurt, soy butter, and cashew ice cream. These products are somewhat helpful. They’re better than nothing and with a little imagination I can almost pretend I’m eating the real deal.
My support system from my parents has been vital to keeping me (mostly) dairy free. In the world of vegan food, my mother is a saint. As a newly proclaimed vegan she still possess an optimistic approach to making dairy free products. Her latest concoction was a pumpkin ice cream alternative and it wasn’t half bad. It pleased both my stomach and taste buds. I excitedly tried to tell my dairy loving sister Ezrie how great this dessert was and how a void in my life was now filled but she wasn’t impressed and simply rolled her eyes at my state of euphoria. Nonetheless, I remained undeterred in my plight to discover a world without dairy and with every passing day, I get a little closer.

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